In case you are new to living Europe, there are a few things you should know about grocery shopping here (before you even step foot into a supermarket)!
- Austrians (and Europeans in general) are BIG on recycling and reducing waste so you will have to bring your own bags to the supermarket. You can purchase plastic or linen ones for a small fee if you are without but keep them handy as many stores will charge you for them.
- Speaking of bags, store clerks will not bag the groceries for you. No, you will be required to – very quickly and efficiently – figure out a way to bag all of your groceries and pay your bill (while entertaining kids perhaps?). Generally this involves putting all of your groceries back into your shopping cart and then finding a designated packing area (behind the cashiers) where you can organize your goods.
- Speaking of shopping carts, you will need small change (50 cents, 1, or 2 Euro coins) to access a cart (no worries, you’ll receive your deposit back when you return the cart in its proper home).
- If you purchase fruits and vegetables, you must weigh them and print out a price tag to stick to the healthy goods you are going to be bagging yourself. The scales are located in the produce section (not at the cashier but there are exceptions!) and items are coded so check the sign by the produce you’re buying to figure out which button to press.
- Supermarkets generally sell food and drink only. So, you can buy any type of wine or schnapps but you will not find aspirin, band-aids, shampoo, cleaning supplies or toiletries. For these items, you will need to go to a pharmacy-like store such as Bipa or dm. Note that larger supermarkets (e.g., Interspar, Metro) sell both household goods and food/wine but the smaller stores typically do not (or have a very limited supply).
- Supermarkets usually close by 8pm – some even earlier (check store hours!), and are generally closed on Sundays and holidays. Supermarkets at train stations, airports, and the smaller “express” markets at gas stations are open when the main ones are closed (see this post).
- While many supermarkets (not all!) accept credit cards, many American/international credit cards do not work because they don’t have the right “chip” so be prepared to have cash or an Austrian Bankomat/ATM card with you.
- If possible, avoid grocery shopping the day before a holiday (or during lunchtime in the 1st district) because you will definitely not be alone!
There are a number of supermarket chains located throughout Vienna. Many offer saving cards that are a good idea to sign up for if you’re planning on shopping there a lot.
- Spar (including Gourmetspar; Interspar; and Eurospar)
- Hofer (note: does not accept credit cards)
If you are affiliated with the Embassy or have your own business, you can also shop at Metro (present your legit card when you enter to receive a “day pass”), a whole-sale store similar to Cost-Co or Sam’s Club in the US.
Billa has an online store that allows you to shop from the comforts of your home. Your order arrives a day after you place it (they deliver to all 23 districts). Service fees are 5.99 Euros for each 50 kg. Minimum purchase amount is 25 Euros. You can pay using credit card or Austrian Bankomat/ATM.
Hausfreund also offers online shopping and delivers the following day if the order is placed before 4pm. Minimum purchase is 30 Euros (if the order is less than that, a 9 Euro service fee applies). The first order is free and after your first purchase, you receive a voucher for 2 additional free deliveries (so essentially, the first 3 deliveries are free)! Subsequent deliveries are 6.99 Euros if the order is placed online (8.99 Euros if done over the phone/fax). They also have a “happy hour” delivery period – Monday through Fridays 3pm-10pm – during which the delivery is free as well. Hausfreund only accepts cash or Austrian Bankomat upon delivery. Like Billa, Hausfreund delivers throughout Vienna.